askNMSU (asknmsu @ nmsu.edu)
6:31 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Is It True Billy The Kid Was Pardones Before He Was Shot To Death?

Las Cruces, NM – This week's question:

Is it true Billy the Kid was pardoned before he was shot to death?

The answer from NMSU History Professor, Dr. Jon Hunner:

Billy the Kid, also known as William H. Bonney, is an internationally known New Mexico Outlaw. The Kid, who, legend has it, killed 21 men, probably actually killed about nine. New Mexico Territorial Governor Lew Wallace made a deal that would grant Billy the Kid a full pardon in January of 1881 if he agreed to testify about a murder in exchange for amnesty. The Kid testified, but his pardon was revoked. Facing execution, the outlaw escaped from the Lincoln County jail and was on the run when he was gunned-down a few months later in July by Sheriff Pat Garrett at the age of 21. Garrett was shot and killed 30 years later near Organ, NM. His killer was acquitted of murder charges even though he confessed to the crime. Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson considered pardoning Billy the Kid late last year before his term ended. A majority of New Mexicans polled last year were apparently in favor of a pardon. In the end Richardson announced on December 31, 2010 that he would not pardon Billy, saying he would not tamper with history.